UPDATED: Country-music iconoclast Sturgill Simpson may have won Best Country Album at the Grammy Awards in February but he’s no fan of the establishment: Wednesday night, outside the CMA Awards in Nashville, he busked on the street to raise money for the ACLU.
He broadcast the performance live on Facebook (see below), and at one point was asked by an onlooker to give a mock award-acceptance speech. “Nobody needs a machine gun, and that’s comin’ from a guy who owns quite a few guns,” he said. “Gay people should have the right to be happy and live their life any way they want to and get married if they want to without fear of getting drug down the road behind a pickup truck. Black people are probably tired of getting shot in the streets and being enslaved by the industrial prison complex. Hegemony and fascism is alive and well in Nashville, Tennessee. Thank you very much.”
He joked that he wasn’t allowed into the ceremony — he did not receive any nominations this year. (A rep for the CMAs told Variety that Sturgill was not barred from attending the show.) “Finally made it, guys, big show,” he said. “They were all out of seats, I couldn’t get a ticket. So I thought I’d come down here and play some country music, since we’re celebrating it this evening in Nashville, Tennessee.”
He was surrounded by signs that read “I don’t take requests but I take questions about anything you want to talk about because fascism sucks” (possibly a dig at the CMAs’ unsuccessful attempt to ban reporters from asking performers questions about last month’s mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas) and “‘Struggling’ country singer … anything helps. (All donations go to the ACLU) God Bless America.” He also appeared to have his Grammy Award placed next to his guitar case.
Last year, Simpson slammed the Academy of Country Music Awards for creating a Merle Haggard “Spirit Award.”
“If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder bull—- they’ve been pumping down rural America’s throat for the last 30 years along with all the high school pageantry, meat parade award show bull—- and start dedicating their programs to more actual Country Music,” Simpson wrote in a Facebook post.